Sermon Summary, Jan 24, 2016, “Did Jesus Really Say That?”
I was recently following a discussion on the internet about religions (and Jesus) as forces for peace. One responder, an atheist said, “You think Jesus is a force for peace? Read Luke 19:27.” Whoa! Is says, “As for those enemies of mine who did not want me to be King over them, bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.” Whoa! Did he really say that?
I’m more bothered by other passages “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.” Who are my enemies, those who persecute me? What does he mean by love? What about you? “Blessed are the rich.” “Woe to those who are rich, for they have received their consolation.” We all are in the top 10 percent if not one percenters in the world. What does he mean.
And if we are to look at the world through the filter of Jesus as we’ve talked the past weeks, how is it that we are to use these passages?
Jesus used hyperbole, exaggeration to make a point. We are to take sin very, very seriously; our wealth very, very seriously, our relationships very, very seriously; and from our opening passage, the King’s return very, very seriously.
The Bible gives us two main themes, filters to use: The great moral imperatives of the Kingdom of God (Love your neighbors, the Golden rule, the great compassion of Jesus); and Eternal Life in Christ through a personal relationship in him. United Methodists embrace both filters, we hold them at the same time, we look through both filters at the same time. It is our personal relationship, our love of Christ that calls us to act with the compassion of Christ, to love our neighbors, to treat others as we wish to be treated.
The Kingdom of God. Jesus in his opening words, “The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent, and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15) Jesus calls us to repent, turn around, not just to stop our behavior but to change our thoughts, change our hearts such that our behavior changes.
The biblical narrative has been as much about rebellion as the Kingdom. From the very first kingdom setting, the garden, we have rebelled. We continue in rebellion with murders, wars, slavery, refugees, unchecked preventable disease, and more simply lying, cheating, stealing, addiction, adultery, gossip, back-biting,
We need to repent. When we do so, we squash the rebellion in our part of the kingdom. We become yeast to leaven those around us, seeds that grow into trees that welcome others to the kingdom. We need to look at the world through the filters of Christ’s moral imperatives and our love for him. Take the rebellion we see very, very seriously and repent. The KOG is at hand.